The irony is rich: interventions by two nongovernmental were mysteriously overlooked in the SBI yesterday. The topic? Public participation in the climate negotiations. Civil society participation plays a critical role in this process. We can't say it better than the Secretariat itself in its guidelines. Vibrant public participation "allows vital experience, expertise, information and perspectives from civil society to be brought into the process to generate new insights and approaches [and] promotes transparency." Importantly, effective public participation also helps ensure the legitimacy and public acceptance of negotiation outcomes. To be sure, the experience in Copenhagen – where the public was more engaged than ever before – has caused some Parties to forget that they agreed in the Convention to "encourage the widest participation in this process, including that of non-governmental organizations." Instead, civil society is being pushed to the margins, with opportunities to contribute increasingly limited to chance hallway encounters and loading up the tables near side events with food and drinks to entice elusive negotiators. Civil society is happy to promote conviviality and informal contact, but the negotiations require substantive and formal involvement as well. ECO suggests the UNFCCC and its parties embrace the growing popularity of the process and seek to use that as an opportunity to improve performance rather than shy away. And now is the time to start. A contact group is meeting today to discuss process issues related to intergovernmental meetings. This group must take up the question of public participation ensure meaningful participation throughout these processes. It should start by permitting designated NGO representatives to actively engage on the issue of participation in today's contact group, as well as in future formal and informal sessions on this issue. As the SBI and the Secretariat consider these issues, ECO urges them to ensure a few basic principles. Measures should always be aimed at ensuring the broadest participation possible in the given circumstance. At a minimum, this means preserving and enhancing opportunities for routine civil society input through official interventions, submissions and consultations. Relevant rules must be transparent and provide for independent review of particular decisions limiting participation. Access to information is the lifeblood of meaningful participation; all key documents should be posted on the Secretariat's website as soon as they are finalized. Indeed, the Secretariat should take the lead in ensuring meaningful public participation and so must have sufficient and increased resources to be able to do so effectively. Additionally, each host country government bears great responsibility as well. Host country agreements should be made public and incorporate an obligation to facilitate participation. As host of COP-16, Mexico must take proactive steps to guarantee effective civil society participation in Cancún. Ambassador de Alba's proven record as a strong defender of human rights gives ECO hope in this regard. Unfortunately, Cancún's geography creates a cause for concern. Direct access to negotiators is essential. Civil society should have broad access to the venues where formal negotiations are taking place except in extreme conditions. In addition, Mexico must guarantee that space for side events and other civil society activities is easily and quickly accessible to all participants. Civil society also serves as an extremely valuable technical and political resource for Parties, especially in developing countries. Parties should always be enabled and encouraged to take advantage of these resources however they choose, including by inviting them onto their delegations where appropriate. Finally, the SBI and the Secretariat should take advantage of an expert resource: the Secretariat of the Aarhus Convention has offered its assistance in resolving UNFCCC public participation concerns. Aarhus input would be valuable. Civil society is not here just to vent our frustration or make the negotiations more difficult. We have a right to participate and much to contribute. It is time for the Parties and the Secretariat to take heed, and then take action.
Tag: Kyoto Protocol
ECO has been excited about the buzz that’s been created around closing the gigatonne gap over the last few days. Delegates are waking up to the need to raise ambition, close loopholes and seek new and innovative solutions to cutting emissions. But ECO would like to remind developed country delegates that it’s not just a mitigation gap – it’s a finance gap too. In line with the mandate to implement all elements of the Bali Action Plan, billions in new, additional, public finance are needed to support nationally appropriate mitigation actions in developing countries. Failure to do so would keep the gigatonne gap wide open.
ECO is deeply concerned that the planet is on a fast track to dangerous climate change. The lack of ambition and plain inaction by the world's richest countries has created a negative spiral that needs to be broken. So-called 'political realism' and current lifestyles will use up the global carbon budget by the early 2020s. Not unlike the financial crisis, an emergency bail-out package is needed to prevent a climate collapse.
There is a widely-acknowledged ‘gigatonne gap’ from the mitigation pledges made at Copenhagen to a global carbon budget and realistic pathway that will be consistent with avoiding dangerous warming of 2º C or more, not to mention 1.5º C, above pre-industrial levels.
On the current path, science tells us we are facing a world that is at least 3º to 4º C warmer. What does that mean? The answers are shocking. This could spell the extinction of countries, ecosystems and species. People will perish. It is already starting to happen. Parties need to urgently take ownership of this gap and acknowledge the responsibility they share in closing it.
ECO has highlighted before that the complexity of the climate problem has instilled fear and mistrust – particularly between industrialized and developing countries. Without fairness and respect we will never have trust. The reality of historic responsibility, the difference in per capita emissions, the primary importance of development for countries whose populations struggle with the crisis of poverty – these are very real. The dynamic of fear and division is obscuring the urgency of the disaster we face.
The fundamental reason why the world is heading for a climate disaster is the feeble ambition on reduction targets and finance coming from all industrialized countries. In particular, the excessive emissions from the US now and to 2020 and beyond are stretching the world’s carbon budget beyond the breaking point.
Whatever else we could say about Copenhagen, it certainly underlined the need for a Fair, Ambitious and Binding agreement which combines the environmental security of a robust emissions cap with a much-needed energy and economic transformation spurred by policies, measures and innovation. Given the size of the gap, we urgently need creative thinking and courageous action.
Further work by SBSTA can support the analysis of available solutions and taking the necessary decisions. ECO proposes that Parties agree, here in Bonn, to hold a workshop under SBSTA Article 9 (‘Scientific, technical and socio-economic aspects of mitigation of climate change’) in the first inter-sessional before Cancún, to come to a common understanding of the scale of the gap, and for steps that could and must be taken to address it.
Developed countries have not adequately reduced their emissions since agreeing the Convention in 1992. The aggregate target of -5% agreed in Kyoto may have been a political success, but it was far from consistent with the scientific realities even at that time. And in the event, many Annex I countries haven't achieved those modest targets, and some have barely even tried. They need to do more.
And still, ECO also notes that fingerpointing is not a survival strategy. We will only stay afloat with a concerted effort from all, according to their abilities.
Climate realism requires action, not new accounting tricks. So another problem is the loopholes that were built into the Kyoto architecture . . . LULUCF rules that hide increased forestry emissions, prodigious offsetting with little additionality (and not even targeted towards sustainable low carbon development), and AAU banking that has become an increasing concern as the end of the first commitment period approaches. The Secretariat’s technical paper recalculated the levels of effort pledged and sheds a clear light on the assumptions behind the targets. While these issues are part of the KP negotiations, they must also be put in a consolidated context.
Finally, ECO suggests that the workshop explore the potential of new sources, sectors and approaches to reduce radiative forcing in the atmosphere and generate funds to support action. Such innovative approaches could include, inter alia:
* International aviation and shipping, a large and rapidly growing source of emissions (business-as-usual would result in 2.2 Gt CO2 by 2020), and one that can be a significant source of climate finance.
* Designing REDD, market mechanisms, NAMAs, etc., to avoid double-counting of both developed country mitigation and financial support obligations, all relevant to the MRV agenda item.
* Reducing emissions of black carbon.
* Inclusion of new F-gases in the climate regime, as technically feasible.
* Taking industrial GHGs (N2O, HFCs and NF3) out of the CDM. Their abatement costs can be better met through a fund. The CDM can be better targeted at transformational measures.
A comprehensive and realistic approach to closing the gigatonne gap is needed now. The inclusion of new sources and sectors should not replace efforts in existing sectors, but be additional so as to bridge the gigatonne gap and peak global emissions by 2015.
The Adaptation Fund (AF) is a self-standing fund established under the Kyoto Protocol in order to finance concrete adaptation projects in the most vulnerable countries. It has several unique and innovative features, including 'direct access', a new level of developing country participation, a new revenue source, and an equitable governance composition. These elements give the Fund the potential to contribute significantly to exploring new ways in international cooperation on adaptation.
The AF Board has also developed a transparent working mode and allows observers to publicly comment on project proposals before their adoption. Furthermore, the strategic priority that the particular needs of the most vulnerable communities and people should be given special attention is an important new step.
ECO has been closely following the development of the AF and recognises that establishing a proper framework for the AF Board has been quite an achievement. With the accreditation of the first National Implementing Entity, the Centre de Suivi Ecologique (CSE) from Senegal, the direct access modality became a reality. The recent call for project proposals by AF for funding through the AF marks the beginning of the long-awaited implementation phase.
It is remarkable that interventions in yesterday´s SBI plenary uniformly supported the Adaptation Fund, across both developing and developed countries. This is a clear sign of progress. In addition, Spain’s contribution of 45 million and Germany´s pledge of 10 million euro to the AF will help set up the ground-breaking facility under the Kyoto Protocol. Other developed countries ought to immediately follow this positive example of fast-start finance.
During the SBI session here, Parties will consider the Terms of Reference for the review of the Adaptation Fund. ECO considers that the review should be based on the positive development of the Fund, the importance of its innovative features and particularly its direct access pilot. The Fund is now just becoming fully operational, so some of the necessary lessons will not be fully captured in the next six months. But the review should in particular look at the following aspects:
* In order to play out its full potential, the resources for the Adaptation Fund have to be increased, and the review should consider how to raise those funds as soon as possible.
* The current set-up has improved significantly compared to early days, but the review should nevertheless address quality, cost-effectiveness and options for further improvement.
* The appropriate role of the AF in the broad finance architecture now being shaped must be discussed.
Overall, the review should seek to strengthen the Adaptation Fund's innovative features and help overcome operational barriers.
And now we’re all here again, what is it that needs to be accomplished?
Clearly, on the KP track lamentably little progress has bee made over the past four years. ECO suggests that the following issues must be agreed this year, as a priority:
- LULUCF accounting rules – Annex I countries must stop trying to hide emissions from forest management and commit to reduce them instead.
- CDM/JI/emissions trading modalities – These must be revamped to avoid double counting of mitigation and financial support obligations, and to keep inappropriate sectors, such as nuclear and CCS, out of the CDM.
- New sources and sectors and other accounting rules around them (the “other issues”) should include new gases to the extent that is technically possible, and use the new IPCC AR4 global warming potential (GWP) measures over the 100 year timescale.
- The commitment period length, base year and the other modalities that will define the calculation of the quantified emission reduction obligation (QERO) and assigned amount from country pledges (here's a free hint! correct answers for the first two are: 5 years, 1990).
When the KP was first negotiated, Parties agreed targets first, and the following years turned into excruciating negotiation exercises that ended up agreeing a series of loopholes. ECO has long maintained that the rules should be negotiated first, so that the science-indicated reduction target of at least 40% on 1990 levels by 2020 can be fairly shared between the Annex B Parties.
For this reason, negotiating time in Bonn and for the intersessionals should be concentrated on clearing these issues, so that the targets and then the discussion on QEROs can be resolved rationally and equitably, based on a clear and common understanding of the underlying scope and rules of accounting. In the short term, then, negotiating time should be concentrated on resolving the issues listed above.
In the LCA track, a balanced agreement is needed by Cancún, with each of the Bali Action Plan building blocks being addressed. In Copenhagen, the LCA negotiating texts on adaptation, technology and REDD+ were well advanced, and agreement should be possible on these issues this year. Additionally, finance, MRV and low carbon development plans should be among the agreements reached this year.
Most Parties seem to agree that progress can be made in Bonn on the design of an adaptation framework for implementation. However, developed countries should stop resisting a firm institutional link that ensures the provision of regular, reliable and truly additional grant-based finance needed to make this framework a real implementation action tool.
Bonn II could also achieve greater clarity on the enhancement, establishment, composition and role of regional centres and initiatives as well as the proposed establishment of an adaptation committee. Another issue that must advance is how to address unavoidable loss and damage from climate change impacts when adaptation is not longer a viable option, e.g., when water resources disappear due to shrinking glaciers and livelihoods become untenable. Progress in Bonn would be achieved if Parties clearly recognise the need for an international mechanism to address loss and damage, and identify key substantive issues to be addressed in subsequent sessions.
Technology negotiations have progressed enough that areas of clear convergence can be identified, especially regarding the establishment of a technology mechanism. More clarity is required to ensure that it operates within UNFCCC authority and principles. Other areas to be further clarified are the role of regional innovation centres, as well as criteria for MRV for technology support and actions that may take place outside the UNFCCC mechanism. Negotiators should be willing to show more flexibility regarding intellectual property issues, acknowledging the valid concerns of all parties, while focusing on a solution that will preserve incentives for innovation and ensure and expand production of, and access to, climate technologies for mitigation and adaptation.
While ECO understands and agrees that reliable and adequate long-term funding is essential, goals for REDD and the conservation and enhancement of carbon stocks remain essential. There should also be a finance goal for support, either a specific range – a number of studies have indicated that halving emissions by 2020 would cost $15-35 billion in 2020 – or simply an agreement to finance achievement of the carbon-related goals. It is crucial to move on this now given the speed of REDD negotiations and the launch of the REDD+ partnership for fast-start financing last week.
Successful mitigation outcomes from REDD+ activities by developing countries, supported by developed countries, depends on using improved methodological guidance for estimating emissions by sources and removals by sinks. SBSTA needs to progress this issue.
Climate integrity is not the only concern for REDD+ activities; safeguards not only need to be agreed, but the LCA text needs to operationalize them.
Climate finance can be a valuable opportunity to build some momentum in a process that needs a shot in the arm. Here in Bonn, parties should set ambitious goals for finance outcomes in Cancún, whether or not a comprehensive deal is agreed by then. To be more precise, by Cancún parties can finalize decisions covering finance MRV, governance and institution, and make substantial progress on operationalizing sources of finance to mobilize funding at the scale needed.
But it must be decided here in Bonn to achieve this by Cancún, and that means a negotiating text must be developed that will result in this outcome. ECO gives fair warning: for any parties thinking of blocking progress on finance because they didn’t get what they want in other areas, it's time to open eyes to the bright light of negotiating reality.
ECO recognizes the crucial role of gathering, in a consistent and comparable way, accurate information relating to emission reduction activities undertaken by Parties, as well as the support provided. Indeed, this is central to the integrity of the climate regime. Thus, it is vital to continue discussions on the nature of MRV, in particular its scope and architecture, that is tailored to Parties’ differentiated obligations. In so doing, Parties should agree a process at this meeting to elaborate the main issues associated with MRV. Additionally, Parties should give the Chair a mandate to develop text on MRV for this and future negotiations. Parties should also consider how to provide capacity building and support to construct and maintain domestic reporting and verification systems in non-Annex I countries.
Zero- and Low-Carbon Action Plans
As part of the essential process to build trust among Parties through transparency of action, ECO would like to highlight the need to agree by Cancún that both developed and developing countries (with optional participation by LDCs and SIDS) will produce national plans showing how developed countries can get their emissions to near-zero by 2050, and how developing countries can reduce their emissions -- with support from developed countries as defined and agreed previously, including the Convention and the Bali Action Plan -- in line with the required overall global carbon budget.
Time for action is so short, there is no time to lose, and actions are needed now in line with the scientific imperative. There is much that can progress at the multilateral level this year. In Bonn, Parties must build upon progress in the LCA and KP tracks to date and define the expectations for a balanced and ambitious outcome in Cancún.
Developed countries should produce Zero Carbon Action Plans (ZCAPs) to map out the institutions and policies needed for them to achieve their targets under a five-year commitment period, with the longer-term aim of near-total decarbonization by 2050. ZCAPs would also serve to document how each country proposes to achieve their support obligations to developing countries. Both parts of the ZCAP would be subject to MRV procedures to help ensure the environmental integrity of the deal and also to give all countries increased confidence that others will not free-ride. The long-term component allows countries to begin to develop a long-term vision for their economies and to plan for related socioeconomic transition. The reporting, review and compliance components of the ZCAP proposal are therefore essential to the integrity of the overall deal and giving confidence that targets will be met.
Developing countries, over the short to medium run and depending on capacity, will produce visionary low-carbon action plans (LCAPs) that provide a road map and outline a trajectory for their pathway to a low-carbon and climate-resilient economy, clearly linking development and climate goals to achieve sustainable development. These plans should be developed through a bottom-up, country-driven process and should build upon national plans for adaptation and mitigation, recognizing the linkages already in place in many countries between these issues. They should provide an integrated framework where a country's NAMAs can form a coherent package. These NAMAs would then form essential building blocks of a LCAP, and together their cumulative impact should result in the long-term objective of a low-carbon economy as well as stay within atmospheric limitations. Mitigation efforts together with adaptation all contribute towards the overall LCAP.
ZCAPs and LCAPs link to a number of existing agenda items. They are in the LCA text and are also relevant in the MRV discussions (MRV mitigation on non-Annex I, Annex I, the “firewall” between them, and MRV finance). Because ECO sees them as being related to national communications, but forward- rather than backward-looking, SBI agenda items 3 and 4 (national communications for developed and developing countries) are also relevant.
Spring is in the air here in Bonn, and ECO, recovering some optimism after a long and well deserved break, hopes this season will usher in a cooperative and productive initial session. And of course with Spring comes spring cleaning. It’s time to dust off those Convention booklets and drag back into our minds all those acronyms that rolled off the tongue over the past few years. And in line with spring as the time of planting and planning ahead, ECO presents a new acronym: AGF, or the Advisory Group on Climate Finance ... catchy, huh? The AGF, comprising a handful of political and financial heavyweights, first met last week in London to discuss how to raise substantial amounts of climate finance. From all reports it appears to have been a positive meeting. Importantly, the AGF (we’re still getting used to the acronym, bear with us) agreed to assess all options on the table and keep an open mind where there are potentially diverging views. Rumour has it we might get more than a long analytical shopping list in the final report – potentially, in fact, a hierarchy of feasible and equitable options – what a Christmas/Navidad present before Cancún! With the fresh feelings of Spring, we have high expectations of what this group can deliver. Whilst the Group has a wide mandate to look at public and private sources, ECO feels the strong expertise and political gravitas in the room should be laser-focused on unraveling the deadlock in the negotiations on innovative public finance sources. This is not to say that other sources won’t be a part of the picture, but these leaders are best placed to brainstorm. Other sources will also likely start flowing if some public finance is available for leverage, and if we see ambitious mitigation targets.At present the AGF is somewhat of a mystery. Though ECO has clocked who’s represented on the Group, we would dearly love to dispel some of the myths about it, but without a website or comprehensive information, transparency is still elusive. This would enable more effective participation by civil society and other stakeholders to strengthen this process.
Dear U.S. Delegation, We appreciate how much more approachable you have become since the Obama administration took office. So we hope you won’t mind responding to a couple questions that have gotten our attention lately. Over the years, ECO has had an interesting experience learning more about United States politics and your legislative process. We started our studies on Senate ratification from the early Kyoto days. And now, although sometimes it all seems a bit strange, we think we understand your two party system as well as the differences between the House of Representatives and the Senate. Most recently, we have been sorting out the mechanism of checks and balances between your President and the Congress. The highly visible health care debate provided a wonderful example of this in practice. First, the health care bill resulted in a clear victory for President Obama due to his diligence and political prowess in forging compromise on a very controversial topic. It is reasonable, therefore, to draw a parallel to the climate change debate and be encouraged by this outcome. But ECO, ever the logical onlooker, wants to ask, if President Obama and his administration made such remarkable progress in Copenhagen, why do they now remain on the sidelines while the Senate squabbles over climate proposals? After all, President Obama did win a Nobel Prize in part for his willingness to take leadership on climate change. Second, is it fully understood that the Senate bill expected later this month may fall miles behind the provisions required to help those most needing support in responding to climate change in our world -- the poor nations, the vulnerable, the forests, and their people? In fact, ECO hears that the already inadequate international climate finance provisions passed by the House of Representatives last year will be mostly eliminated in the forthcoming Senate bill. If the President and his administration are truly committed to fulfilling their pledges in Copenhagen, won’t they insist that the Senate bill include more substantial amounts of funding for adaptation, clean technology and REDD? Since this is an open letter, ECO has questions for others as well. To leaders and ministers who negotiated with President Obama and the US delegation in Copenhagen – will you make your concerns clear about the prospect of minimal international climate finance levels in the Senate? And to all other delegates reading this: we’d like to suggest you chat up the friendly U.S. delegates you encounter in the corridors or between meetings and ask them about this as well. We’re sure they will be happy to answer your questions. And since we’re all still in learning mode on the US political system, maybe they can shed some light on other mysteries, such as, what exactly does the Electoral College do anyway? Signed, your new Best Friend Forever (BFF) ECO
Dear Delegates, It is April 2010 and we are back . . . with a whimper? The bottom line: Copenhagen wasn’t the stuff of dreams after all. It certainly didn’t deliver up our dream of a climate threshold well below 2 degree C (let alone 1.5 degree C) for the planet! Meanwhile, the science is ever more loudly telling us to kick-start a “race to the top” for more ambitious mitigation targets. Parties are busy finding distractions and reasons not to deliver the needed outcomes under the AWG-LCA and AWG-KP tracks. And none of this, sadly, is very different than what we observed in the long runup to Copenhagen. So here we are. All too many developed country parties continue playing to weaken the ability to deliver a fair, ambitious and binding outcome, based on narrow national interests. To take it beyond these generalities, ECO has a few suggestions where improvement is especially needed. First off, the existing LULUCF rules under the Kyoto Protocol, riddled with far too many loopholes, are leading to perverse outcomes as long predicted. And yet the revised rules drafted and partly negotiated at Copenhagen go even further in the wrong direction. Parties must abandon attempts to stretch the LULUCF rules even more, hiding future emission increases from the sector and undermining the integrity of a climate deal. A revised LULUCF framework must be free of loopholes, use historic baselines and not future projections, and set an explicit goal to actually reduce emissions and increase removals from forestry and land management. Surely this is not unreasonable for a climate deal ? Likewise, even after two full years of negotiations, the Shared Vision text coming out of Copenhagen is far from wholesome. One thing the text has is too many brackets. They surround a number of major elements including the long term global goal, developed country emissions, peak year, and review process. The current Shared Vision text also skips over the next commitment period, the legal nature of the outcome, and a compliance clause among other aspects. Instead, the Shared Vision needs to guide the negotiations toward the final outcome rather than be wrapped up at the end of the process. Next up, a focus of the negotiations that must not be lost. While all nations – especially top-emitting countries – should strive to put forward emissions reduction proposals that fully address the prospect of dangerous climate change, the pledges to date are far from what is needed. Instead of putting us on track to achieve the Copenhagen Accord commitment to keep increases below 2 Degree C, the pledges in hand instead lead toward nearly a 4 degree increase, according to a recent analysis by the Sustainability Institute. Not only that, merely pleading ‘political realities’ will not stem the rising Gigatonne Gap, as demonstrated by the current science. Catching up after 2020 really isn’t an option, is it, if we are serious about containing global warming. Now let’s turn to an issue that has been gaining prominence recently but needs more prioritisation. Everyone now agrees that adaptation is a major challenge . . . so let’s treat it that way. In the work plan for the rest of this year, Parties should focus on producing an adaptation text containing a concrete agreement on both fast-start and long-term finance, as well as a robust mechanism for delivery. The Adaptation Fund is proving to be an excellent mechanism with governance and outcomes founded on the principle of equity. Here is a working prototype for a well-managed, equitable and effective climate fund under the auspices of the UNFCCC. That brings up a broader point. There are troublesome winds blowing on the sources and scale of finance so that developed countries meet their obligations under the Convention. The Secretary-General has employed his good offices in convening the high-level Advisory Group on Climate Finance (AGF). But remember -- ultimately, Parties have the responsibility to produce a decision in Cancún. For fast track financing, developed countries should make good on longstanding commitments and provide expanded financial resources to the mechanisms that already exist under the authority of the COP – the Adaptation Fund, Least Developed Countries Fund and Special Climate Change Fund. Nearing the end of our highlights tour, let’s turn to REDD. Requests for further work on methodological issues in the draft LCA text should be agreed and forwarded to SBSTA at this meeting, so it can fully engage on this agenda in June. Meanwhile, the LCA REDD group should also continue its work at the June session full speed, focusing first on issues that can be resolved without reference to the broader process -- for example, the operationalization of safeguards, and an objective for REDD.Furthermore, time should be set aside in the LCA work plan to consider outstanding REDD issues that cut across to other aspects of mitigation such as MRV and NAMAs. Based on the submissions by parties post-Copenhagen, it is clear that developing country parties will not compromise on their core ask for a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. The outcome of negotiations under the LCA track, regardless of form, must provide for and significantly advance the full implementation of financial obligations of developed countries under the Convention. And the legal form and nature of the LCA track outcome must be in full respect of equity principles, including “common but differentiated responsibilities”. We have reached the last innings on many fronts: inter-generational equity, intra-generational obligations, and the possibility of achieving the overarching goals of poverty alleviation and climate-neutral sustainable development. Yours sincerely, 6.8 billion people... and counting...on Planet Earth…
CAN position paper : Emissions from international aviation and shipping. November 2009